The Romance Reviews

A Dare too Far #historicalromance #newrelease from Charlie Lane . A daring lady. A caring earl. And a Christmas house party that turns love into a dangerous game.

 

 

The Debutante Dares Series, Book Two

Historical Romance, Regency Romance,

Release Date: December 2, 2021

Publisher: WOLF Publishing



In this friends-to-lovers Regency romance by Charlie Lane, an independent lady and a cautious earl must do the most daring thing of all—fall in love.


A daring lady.

A caring earl.

And a Christmas house party that turns love into a dangerous game.

The Earl of Abbington is not a daring man.

Responsible for the care of an opium-addicted uncle, George’s life poses dangers to a bride that he’ll never risk. It’s why he avoided the independent and kind Lady Jane last year, despite her brother’s request he protect her during her season. His neglect no doubt led to Jane’s tattered reputation. In reparation, he’s sent pre-approved suitors to the house party to ensure she marries well, not to a man whose life is a nightmare.

Lady Jane is done being daring.

Her daring spirit ruined her reputation, her family’s social standing, and her brother’s marital prospects. But a Christmas house party attended by a coterie of willing suitors can put everything right. Plain of face and ordinary of intellect, Jane knows she’ll never find love. And she doesn’t want it anyway. Love is the most daring thing a woman can do, after all. Instead, she’ll develop a system to test her suitors and discover the best husband for a practical sort of marriage.

Jane needs George’s help choosing a husband, but George soon realizes he can’t give it without betraying his own heart. Together, they must find the courage to face the dangers of love or lose the love of a lifetime.



Other Books in The Debutante Dares Series:

Daring the Duke

The Debutante Dares Series, Book One

Publisher: WOLF Publishing


In this Regency romance by Charlie Lane, a London season of scandalous dares forces a lady and her duke to see that perfect isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

A redheaded bluestocking in desperate need of a wealthy husband.

A handsome duke looking for the perfect duchess.

And a dare that shows that opposites may not only attract but can be so much more.

Lady Tabitha Hampton has the memory of an elephant. Her sharp brain locks everything away tight as a trunk in an attic. But this talent fails to help the twenty-seven-year-old bluestocking attract the attention of a single wealthy suitor. And she needs one. With three sisters of marriageable age, a sickly father, and a series of bad investments draining their dowries, Tabitha’s marriage could save or ruin her entire family.

The Duke of Collingford needs a wife, but not just any one will do. Arthur’s future duchess must be perfect in every way—fair of face, impeccable manners, with enough social influence to impact his parliamentary projects. When he joins the whirl of the London season, the duke finds an insufferable, redheaded wallflower instead.

Tabitha insists she can be the perfect duchess, if he’ll only give her the chance. Arthur agrees to test her abilities, but she tests his control. And one taste of her lips is enough to make him embrace chaos.

Opposites may attract, but can they cooperate? Or will they lose everything, including their hearts?

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About the Author

Charlie Lane traded in academic databases and scholarly journals for writing steamy Regency romcoms like the ones she’s always loved to read. Her favorite authors are Jane Austen (who else?), Toni Morrison, William Blake, Julia Quinn, and Maya Rodale.

Charlie writes unique stories with unconventional characters who push against the rigid restrictions of their society. Officially, Charlie has a Ph.D. in literature with a focus on the nineteenth-century novel and children’s literature and answers to Professor. Unofficially, she’s a high-flying circus-obsessed acrobat, with an emphasis on two-tail silks and answers to Muscles Magee. She lives with her own Colonel Brandon, two little dudes, and a furry fella in East Tennessee.


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Romance #anthology #historicalromance #holidayromance Sealed with a Yuletide Kiss from @BarnesSophie

 

 

An Historical Romance Advent Calendar

Historical Romance, Regency Romance, Holiday Romance, Romance Anthology

Date Published: November 30, 2021



Allow yourself to be swept away as you count down to Christmas with this collection of twenty-four romantic short stories. From friends to lovers and instant romance to secret identities and so much more, these treats are sure to fill you with warmth this holiday season. So grab a hot drink, settle into your favorite spot, and indulge in the magic of happily ever afters.


Story titles:

December 1: A Drunken Christmas Escapade

December 2: A Royal Affair on Christmas Eve

December 3: A Duke Surrenders His Heart on Christmas Eve

December 4: A Highwayman Proposes on Christmas Eve

December 5: Caught in a Snow Storm on Christmas Eve

December 6: Rescued by a Duke before Christmas

December 7: A Kiss for Christmas

December 8: A Christmas House Party

December 9: Underneath the Mistletoe

December 10: Snowed In on Christmas Eve

December 11: An Unexpected Guest Arrives for Christmas

December 12: At the Christmas Ball

December 13: Trapped in a Carriage on Christmas Eve

December 14: By the Stroke of Midnight

December 15: The Duke Proposes on Christmas

December 16: A Scandalous Dare on Christmas Eve

December 17: A Secret Christmas Rendezvous

December 18: Stealing a Yuletide Kiss

December 19: A Shocking Revelation for Christmas

December 20: Stranded at an Inn during Christmas

December 21: An Unexpected Encounter with a Highlander

December 22: Reunited on Christmas Eve

December 23: Only a Duke Will Do for Christmas

December 24: A Christmas Wedding Gone Awry



About the Author

USA Today Bestselling Author, Sophie Barnes, has spent her youth traveling with her parents to wonderful places all around the world. She's lived in five different countries, on three different continents, and speaks Danish, English, French, Spanish and Romanian with varying degrees of fluency.

She has studied design in Paris and New York and has a bachelor's degree from Parson's School of design, but most impressive of all - she's been married to the same man three times, in three different countries and in three different dresses.

While living in Africa, Sophie turned to her lifelong passion - writing.

When she's not busy, dreaming up her next romance novel, Sophie enjoys spending time with her family. She currently lives on the East Coast.


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Regency #historicalromance Pemberley's Christmas Governess Read a #teaser @reginajeffers A Jane Austen #fanfiction

 

 

A Pride and Prejudice Holiday Vagary

Regency Romance,  Classic Romance, Jane Austen Fan Fiction

Release Date: November 29, 2021

Publisher: Regency Solutions



Two hearts. One kiss.

Following his wife’s death in childbirth, Fitzwilliam Darcy hopes to ease his way back into society by hosting a house party during Christmastide. He is thrilled when his cousin Colonel Fitzwilliam sends a message saying not only will he attend, but the colonel is bringing a young woman with him of whom he hopes both Darcy and the colonel’s mother, Lady Matlock, will approve. Unfortunately, upon first sight, Darcy falls for the woman: He suspects beneath Miss Elizabeth Bennet’s conservative veneer lies a soul which will match his in every way; yet, she is soon to be the colonel’s wife.

Elizabeth Bennet lost her position as a governess when Lady Newland accuses Elizabeth of leading her son on. It is Christmastide, and she has no place to go and little money to hold her over until after Twelfth Night; therefore, when Lieutenant Newland’s commanding officer offers her a place at his cousin’s household for the holy days, she accepts in hopes someone at the house party can provide her a lead on a new position. Having endured personal challenges which could easily have embittered a lesser woman, Elizabeth proves herself brave, intelligent, educated in the fine arts of society, and deeply honorable. Unfortunately, she is also vulnerable to the Master of Pemberley, who kindness renews her spirits and whose young daughter steals her heart. The problem is she must leave Pemberley after the holidays, and she does not know if a “memory” of Fitzwilliam Darcy will be enough to sustain her.



Excerpt

Driving regret from his features, Darcy turned to greet Captain Stewart. “We are pleased you have decided to join us, sir.” He extended his hand in greeting. Outside, he caught a glimpse of a petite woman providing directions to what must be her maid and assisting Darcy’s footmen to separate the gentlemen’s trunks. A frown formed on his forehead. The lady should not be left to sort these things out.

Welcome, Captain Stewart,” Lady Matlock called as she descended the stairs on her son’s arm.

The captain bowed properly and said, “Thank you and Darcy for accepting my presence along with the colonel.”

Always glad for more company,” Darcy repeated, while searching the drive once again with his eyes for the woman, who, evidently, had disappeared.

Bingley and his youngest sister appeared to greet the new guests, and, so, Darcy slipped outside to ask Mr. Nathan what had transpired. “Where is the young lady, Nathan?”

The lady insisted on following her abigail around the house to a ‘less than obtrusive entrance.’ She said she would speak to Mrs. Reynolds at the kitchen entrance.”

Ridiculous!” Darcy growled as he went after the woman. “Miss! Miss!” he called, using his long legs to overtake her. “Miss, there must be—”

The lady turned to look upon him, and Darcy forgot to breathe. An odd sizzle of recognition swept through him—an emotion he had never felt previously, but one which felt natural, nonetheless, despite it placing his normal complacency on high alert.

The lady was a good head shorter than he, but not quite as petite as he had first thought. Delicate, very feminine features and a fragile bone structure could not disguise the firmness of character he discovered in her expression. Moreover, the lady possessed the type of eyes in which a man could easily become lost. Intelligent eyes. They glistened from the cold, but when they looked at him, Darcy thought he could see a future that had long evaded his multiple attempts at consideration. Her eyes were green with a touch of woodsy brown. Whether he liked it or not, he suspected they would haunt his dreams tonight, but he took quick note they were equally “haunted,” providing the woman a hint of vulnerability—a look which made him want to reach out and tug her into his embrace and offer her his protection.

Holding his hands tightly in fists at his side to keep the tug of possession from claiming his good sense, he said stiffly, “There is some mistake, miss. You are to join us in the family part of the house. The colonel wrote specifically to ask us to welcome you into our home. Please permit me to escort you inside.”

She stared at him with curious interest marking her features. A small smile tugged at the corners of her lips, and Darcy had the distinct feeling a smile on her lips might be his undoing. “I did not wish to interrupt the colonel’s homecoming. He has spoken often of the wonderful times he has spent at Pemberley.” She glanced around. “It is truly a magnificent estate, sir.”

I am pleased you find it so,” Darcy said, as a smile also claimed his lips. “You should view it in the spring and summer when it is green and full of color.”

She sighed deeply. “I would enjoy doing so very much. When I was—” The lady paused, giving her head a good shake. “My memories are not significant or of interest to you, sir.”

Darcy was not best pleased with her response. He would have liked to hear more of her opinion of his estate and her memories, but, instead, he presented her a slight bow. “Permit your maid to take your bags—” He looked to the girl, who appeared familiar. “I have seen you before, have I not?”

The maid dipped an awkward curtsey. “Yes, sir. I be Mr. Crownley’s daughter, Hannah, sir.”

Of course,” he said. “I thought you away from home.”

I was, sir. In Gloucestershire.”

Darcy nodded his acceptance. “I hope your mistress means to allow you to spend time with your family. Crownley will wish to see you for Christmas.”

I have already told Hannah she may spend as much time as she likes with her family,” the lady explained.

Good,” Darcy stated. “Then permit Hannah and my men to secure your bags in your quarters, and come away with me.” He offered the woman his arm. “The colonel’s mother is eager to take your acquaintance.”

She hesitated. “But I do not know your name, sir,” she said with a pert lift of her chin and with what sounded of a tease in her tone.

He smiled easily, realizing it had been forever since he had felt this light-hearted. “There is no one about to introduce us. The colonel is in the house,” he reminded her.

The lady glanced over her shoulder to the maid. “Hannah holds both of our acquaintances. Could not she perform the deed?”

Darcy could not look away from the lady’s countenance. He said with another grin of satisfaction for the privilege of speaking to such an enchanting woman, “Miss Crownley, might you provide me the acquaintance of your mistress?”

The maid giggled, but she managed a proper curtsey. “Lard, I never thought—” The girl sobered immediately. “Mr. Darcy, may I give you the acquaintance of Miss Bennet? Miss Bennet, the master of Pemberley, Mr. Darcy.”

Charmed, Miss Bennet.” He repeated with a bow. “If you have no objections, miss, I would see you inside the house. You must be quite chilled through standing outside for so long. Derbyshire winters are deceptively cold.”

The lady curtseyed. “Charmed indeed, Mr. Darcy,” she said softly, before placing her gloved hand upon his arm.

As he turned her steps toward the main entrance, in Darcy’s mind, time slowed. Desire as he had never known found a place in his chest. Instead of the main door, he was half-tempted to lead the woman to a nearby folly and enjoy more of the lady’s smiles. An insidious whisper pronounced her as his. Yet, when he reached the still open door, reality slapped him in the face.

There you are, Miss Bennet,” his cousin said as the lady left Darcy’s arm to stand beside his cousin. Edward said, very precisely, “My lady, with your permission, I would give you the acquaintance of Miss Elizabeth Bennet. Miss Bennet, my mother, the Countess of Matlock.”

Darcy looked on as the woman, who had just bewitched him with a simple smile, executed a perfect curtsey. “I am humbled, my lady, by your kind recognition.” She glanced to the colonel and smiled largely. “Colonel Fitzwilliam has told me numerous tales of his family.”

The countess arched an eyebrow which said she thought Edward’s actions odd, as did Darcy, for his cousin had shared nothing of the lady with any of his dear family, but Miss Bennet had said something similar to him only moments earlier. Darcy’s aunt smiled her “social” smile. “I believe I speak for all of the colonel’s family in saying we will be most happy to learn more of you, Miss Bennet. For now, welcome to Pemberley.”

From a place on the staircase, Hurst called out, “Now, now, boys. No way for children to act. Louisa, I say do, something!”

Mrs. Hurst caught one of the boys just as Mrs. Anderson came rushing upon the scene. The nurse presented the gathering in the foyer a quick curtsey. “I apologize, Mr. Darcy,” she said, wringing her hands in obvious distress. “I be puttin’ Miss Cassandra down for a nap, and the boys slipped out when Megs was called away to assist Cook. They followed their parents after Mr. and Mrs. Hurst left the nursery.”

Mrs. Anderson’s whole demeanor said she was fearful of Darcy’s disfavor. He did not like the look on the woman, who had been very loyal to his family over the years.

He said, “No harm, Mrs. Anderson. I will ask Mrs. Reynolds to have Megs and another maid take turns in assisting you. I am grieved to have added to your duties. I will see you are readily compensated.”

I beg your pardon, Mr. Darcy. Might I be of assistance, sir? I would be happy to return the boys to the nursery and entertain them until the maid can return to her duties there.” Miss Bennet’s earnest expression said she spoke honestly. “Surely there are some items in the house which can be used to entertain the boys. Toy soldiers, perhaps, from when you and the colonel were younger. Most large households store such items away as the children age.”

His cousin suggested, “The grey trunk. Hey, Darcy. We kept all our best cavalry in it.”

Darcy nodded his understanding and looked to his butler.

I believe it was placed in the attic some years back, sir. I can have someone bring it down immediately, Mr. Darcy.”

We should have done so before now,” Mr. Darcy admitted, although, in reality, it should be the Hursts’ responsibility to see their children were entertained.

Miss Bennet immediately handed her cloak, bonnet, and gloves to Mr. Nathan and then climbed a few steps to claim the hand of first one of the Hurst boys and then the other. “Why do you not come with me? Mr. Darcy has promised us a treasure chest full of toys to explore together. Will that not be grand?”

The youngest of the two said, “Yes, ma’am.”

The lady turned to Darcy. “With your permission, sir,” she murmured.

Darcy attempted to keep the frown from his features, but he knew he failed. “I must object, Miss Bennet. It would be the worst of society to accept a young lady into my home as a guest and then expect her to perform the work of a governess. Neither I nor my household can impose upon your good nature in such a manner.”

I assure you, sir, I would not feel put upon in any such way. I prefer to make myself useful, and, as my position in society is one of governess, please permit me to assist you.”

Without waiting for his permission, she turned the boys’ steps toward the above storey and gracefully climbed the stairs to where Mrs. Anderson waited to show her the way. As her little party turned toward the nursery, he heard her say, “You must tell me your names. I am Miss Bennet.”

Governess?” the countess asked her son. “Did Miss Bennet say she was a governess?”

Yes, she did,” the colonel declared. A look of admiration marked the colonel’s features. “Was it not wonderful how she quite readily took the matter in hand? I am very proud of how quickly Miss Bennet proved herself useful to Darcy.”

But—” the countess thought to lodge her objection, likely the same objection rushing to Darcy’s lips.

However, Edward claimed his mother’s hand and brought the back of it to his lips. “I will explain later, Countess. For now, I want to freshen my clothes, and, then, I wish to hear all there is to learn of both Roland and father. How is the esteemed Miss Ashley? Is a wedding date set?” He turned to the rest of Darcy’s guests. “I will look forward to hearing something from each of you at supper.” He looked to Darcy. “My customary quarters, I assume.”

Yes, and the captain is in the blue suite across from you.”

Edward motioned the captain to follow him. “Come, Stewart. Darcy and my mother keep the gentlemen and the ladies in different wings of the house. I will show you the way. If one does not have a guide, he may become lost in a maze of rooms.”

As they all disappeared to different reaches of the house, including the countess and Georgiana, Darcy remained staring off at the point where the lady, who had quite literally sent his heart pounding in a manner he had never experienced previously, had disappeared. Growing up together, Darcy had, most assuredly, idolized his older cousin, for Edward had always appeared stronger and wiser than he, but, until a few moments prior, he thought he had finally caught up to the man; perhaps, even, had outdistanced him in many of the essentials required of an English gentleman. Yet, with absolute certainty, his cousin had once again left Darcy wishing for some “unknown,” which Fitzwilliam possessed.


About the Author

Regina Jeffers, an award-winning author of historical cozy mysteries, Austenesque sequels and retellings, as well as Regency era romances, has worn many hats over her lifetime: daughter, student, military brat, wife, mother, grandmother, teacher, tax preparer, journalist, choreographer, Broadway dancer, theatre director, history buff, grant writer, media literacy consultant, and author. Living outside of Charlotte, NC, Jeffers writes novels that take the ordinary and adds a bit of mayhem, while mastering tension in her own life with a bit of gardening and the exuberance of her “grand joys.”


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Be teased today as Sophie Barnes visits with a chapter to read from new release #historicalromance

 



Be teased from Regency Romance, Mr Dale and the Divorcée

 

Chapter One

 

London, 1818

It was horribly hard for Wilhelmina Hewitt to find the words she needed to start this discussion. But after all her husband, George, had done for her, she felt it her duty now to help him as best she could. Even if the subject she wished to broach would probably shock him.

“Would you like a brandy?” he offered, the gentle sound of his voice conveying the warmth and consideration he’d always shown her.

Her resolve – the complete lack of nervousness she experienced in spite of her decision – surprised Wilhelmina. Instead of panic, an extraordinary sense of calm overcame her. She knew she was making the right choice, no matter how much it was destined to upend her life.

She considered her husband with deliberate practicality. The man she’d married twenty years earlier when she’d been eighteen and pregnant reclined in the armchair opposite hers, his gaze expectant. Their fathers had been like brothers. They’d attended the same schools, had fought side by side in the American War of Independence, and had later perished together at sea.

Wilhelmina and George had both been ten years old when news of their fathers’ deaths had arrived. With their properties less than one mile apart, they’d quickly found solace in each other. As one would expect, the incident had deepened the bond they’d already shared since birth. So when Wilhelmina faced the greatest ordeal of her life eight years later, George hadn’t hesitated for a second. Having recently been denied the woman he loved, he’d insisted he’d never want to wed another. So he’d chosen to protect Wilhelmina instead. George had, she acknowledged, sacrificed more for her than what was fair. It was time she returned the favor.

Deciding to be direct, she cleared her throat. “I think we ought to get a divorce.”

George’s eyes widened. He stared at her as if she were mad. “I beg your pardon?”

Wilhelmina took a deep breath. “How long have you and Fiona been seeing each other?”

His gaze slid away from hers as his cheeks grew ruddy. “You know the answer to that.”

“By my estimation it’s almost exactly two years. Two years of pretending Fiona is my dearest friend – that it is me she comes to see thrice a week, not you.” The lovely widow, ten years George’s junior, had caught his attention one evening at Almack’s. The two had struck up a conversation, which had led to a dance. When subsequent run-ins with Fiona had increased George’s interest in her, Wilhelmina had decided to step in and help the pair. By covering for them, she’d allowed them to conduct their affair in private and without scrutiny.

It was, she realized, an unconventional arrangement. But then again, her entire marriage was far from ordinary. The one and only attempt she and George had made to consummate their union turned out to be a spectacular failure. Bedding each other had been impossible due to their being like brother and sister and, Wilhelmina admitted, due to her own aversion for the act itself. So she’d happily encouraged George to pursue such relationships elsewhere in the years since.

“I’m sorry. I did not realize you were opposed to our meetings. You never—”

“George.” Wilhelmina gave her husband a reassuring smile. “I believe you’ve misunderstood my reason for suggesting a divorce. It is not because I’m offended or upset by the relationship you and Fiona enjoy, but rather because I believe you have fallen in love with her and she with you.”

He sat utterly motionless for a moment, then finally nodded. They’d always been frank with each other. “You’re correct, but divorce is not the answer, Mina. It would be public and messy. Our reputations would be destroyed in the process – yours especially.”

Bolstering herself against the truth of his words, she shrugged one shoulder. “I’ll manage.”

“No.” He shook his head. “I won’t have that on my conscience.”

She stood and went to crouch before him. Her hand clasped his. A pair of dark brown eyes filled with concern met hers. “You gave up on love for me once – on starting a family of your own. Please, allow me to return the enormous favor you did me when you decided to save me from ruin and Cynthia from illegitimacy.”

“Ah, but I did marry for love, Mina.”

“I know, but not in the way you should have.”

“If you think I have regrets, you’re wrong. I’d make the same decision again in a heartbeat.”

“Because you’re the best man there is, George. And as such, you deserve every happiness in the world. You deserve to have a life with Fiona just as she deserves to have a life with you.” She carefully released his hand, then stood and crossed to the sideboard where she proceeded to fill two glasses with brandy. Returning, she handed him his drink and took a sip of her own.

A frown appeared on George’s brow. “You’ve no idea how hard it would be to break up our marriage completely. We’re not just speaking of legal separation, Mina, which in and of itself is enough to see one shunned from Society. What you’re suggesting would require parliamentary involvement with three readings of the divorcement bill before the Lords. Witnesses to your adulterous behavior would have to give evidence.”

“I’ve thought about that. Obviously, the simplest thing to do would be to pay a few men for the trouble.”

He gaped at her, then took a sip of his drink. “No. I appreciate the offer, but we’ll do no such thing.”

“George. I really—”

“It’s absolutely out of the question.”

“You’re certain I can’t persuade you?”

He gave her a steady look. “Quite.”

“All right,” Mina agreed after a moment’s hesitation. She knew when George was beyond budging. “But this arrangement with Fiona is untenable. It’s just a matter of time before someone catches on to the fact that the two of you are lovers, and when they do, she will suffer the most. So if you refuse a divorce, you should at the very least consider moving out of Town. Find a small village somewhere so you can carry on with each other discreetly.”

“And leave you here by yourself? Would that not raise a few eyebrows?”

“Not if you come back from time to time and visit. Plenty of husbands travel for work.”

“My work, as you well know, is here in London.”

“It doesn’t have to be.” As the designer and manufacturer of fine furniture, George had made a name for himself amid the upper class. Having a Hewitt sofa was all the rage. So much so they’d both been admitted into upper class circles and counted Viscount and Viscountess Pennington among their dearest friends. “You already have employees who are trained to handle new orders along with the shop on a regular basis. Whether you sit in your study here and create new designs or you do so a hundred miles away would make little difference, would it not?”

“I suppose not.”

“Especially if you were to set up a home near Croft, which in my mind would make your life simpler since that’s where the carpenters are.”

For the first time since this conversation had begun, George allowed a hint of humor to tug at his lips. “You’ve put a frightening amount of thought into this. If I didn’t know any better, I’d think you were eager to be rid of me.”

“Not at all,” she told him in earnest. “I merely desire to see you happy.”

He seemed to mull this over a moment. “I’ll think on it. Right now, there’s still Cynthia’s upcoming wedding to consider. Moving ahead with any drastic changes should probably wait until she has spoken her vows. I’d hate to give Mr. Petersen or his parents a reason to call things off.”

“Agreed.”

George finally smiled. “Good. That’s settled then. Care for a game of cards?”

Wilhelmina located the deck and returned to her seat. She knew George was being protective. It was in his nature. But she hated feeling like she was becoming a hindrance to him, a burden keeping him from the life he deserved.

Of course, altering his perspective only required a change in circumstance. This was apparent when he came to speak with Wilhelmina six months later. In the sort of bleak tone one might use when there’d been a death in the family, he announced that he’d gotten Fiona with child.

“I’m sorry,” he muttered. Slumped in the same chair he’d used for their previous conversation on the matter, he clasped his head between his hands. No man had ever looked more defeated or miserable. It broke Wilhelmina’s heart. The joy George would surely have felt over the pregnancy was being overshadowed by the complication of his marriage to her.

Now, faced with a choice between the scandal of divorce or bringing an illegitimate child into the world, she knew his hand had been forced by fate. As such, the only thing she could think to do was offer comfort and reassurance as he’d so often done for her. “It’s all right. I will survive this, George. We all will.”

“I’ve spoken about it at length with Fiona. She asked me to convey her gratitude. What you are willing to do is—”

“The correct thing.”

“Mina…” His voice was thick with feeling.

“Moving forward, we’ll need a plan,” she told him matter-of-factly before she too succumbed to emotion. “Right now, only the three of us know the true nature of this marriage or that you and I share a bond stronger than what most married couples enjoy. If we are to succeed in dissolving our marriage completely, we’ll need to put up a good façade. The fewer people we confide in, the better.”

“I’ve considered this too,” George said. “I think we need to tell Cynthia and her husband, Henry, what to expect. I also think it would benefit you if one or two of our closest friends, like the Penningtons, were brought into our confidence. This way, you won’t be completely alone afterward.”

“Maybe,” she agreed. “From what I gather, you and I shan’t be permitted to see each other once the divorce has been settled.”

“Not that we’d have much opportunity to.” When she gave him a puzzled look he explained, “Although getting through this may take a long time, Fiona and I intend to leave England as soon as it’s over since staying here and facing the aftermath could be difficult for our child.”

Wilhelmina’s stomach clenched at the idea of George moving overseas. He’d always been there and while she was happy to help him marry Fiona, she instantly knew his absence from England would lead to an unwelcome emptiness in her heart. For his sake, she forced herself to maintain her composure.

“Where will you go?”

“Massachusetts has a well-established logging industry, but it’s my understanding that the area surrounding the Great Lakes shows promise. It’s reputed to be an especially stunning part of North America. Most importantly, it’s far away.”

It certainly was. Wilhelmina forced a smile and tried not to panic. This was for the best. George would be with the woman he loved and start a family. With Cynthia already settled a few months earlier, her future had been secured. As for Wilhelmina herself, she’d weather the storm as best as she could, most likely by focusing all her energy on the property she owned near Renwick. George had helped her purchase the small farm nearly five years ago. After a serious bout of influenza, he’d insisted on making sure she’d have a property in her own name in case he died. She’d not been there often, but having it did reassure her.

“You do realize your child will likely be born out of wedlock,” Wilhelmina said. She hated bringing this up, but decided it was best to face the facts, no matter how unappealing. “From what I gather, the proceedings we intend to undertake could last a couple of years.”

George’s gaze finally sharpened. “I’m aware, but once it’s done, my son or daughter shall have my name.”

 

         

 

 


The Brazen Beauties, Book 1

Regency Romance, Historical Romance

Date Published: November 23, 2021



He's a respectable barrister...

She's the most scandalous woman in England...

Wilhelmina Hewitt knows she's in for a rough ride when she agrees to help her husband get a divorce. Nothing, however, prepares her for the regret of meeting Mr. Dale on the eve of her downfall. No other man has ever sent her heart racing as he does. Unfortunately, while she'll soon be free to engage in a new relationship, no upstanding gentleman will have her.

James Dale would never pursue another man's wife. Or a woman reputed to be a deceitful adulteress. Furious with himself for letting the lovely Mrs. Hewitt charm him, he strives to keep his distance. But when her daughter elopes with his son, they're forced into a partnership where passion ignites. And James soon wonders if there might be more to the divorcée than meets the eye.





About the Author

USA TODAY bestselling author Sophie Barnes spent her youth traveling with her parents to wonderful places all around the world. She’s lived in five different countries, on three different continents, and speaks Danish, English, French, Spanish, and Romanian with varying degrees of fluency. But, most impressive of all, she’s been married to the same man three times—in three different countries and in three different dresses.

When she’s not busy dreaming up her next romance novel, Sophie enjoys spending time with her family, swimming, cooking, gardening, watching romantic comedies and, of course, reading.


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